When Dr. Sandy Hirsh, Director, School of Information, received an invitation to be a visiting scholar at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan, she was thrilled. “It was an honor to be invited by Rikkyo University to work with Professor Yuriko Nakamura and her colleagues.” Dr. Hirsh first met Professor Nakamura when she attended the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) conference, August 2016. “Dr. Nakamura approached me to apply for their university’s Visiting Scholar program because she thought that people in Japan would be interested in my expertise in e-learning as well as my career path that involved working in the Silicon Valley in R&D and consumer product development and then in academic leadership as the Director of the School of Information,” says Dr. Hirsh.
During Dr. Hirsh’s two-week visit in October 2017, she delivered two large public lectures, “The Global Transformation of Libraries, Library and Informational Science Education, and Library and Informational Science Professionals.” In these presentations, she addressed some of the disruptive and emerging technology trends in the information field, and what these mean for libraries, librarians, and library and information science education. In addition to these formal lectures, she also led two classroom discussions with library and information science students. These discussions focused on career development, time management, balancing career and family life, and career paths. “The students asked great questions! We discussed some of the professional and cultural differences in Japan and the United States,” says Dr. Hirsh. She also visited libraries in Tokyo and met with university officials and researchers.
“I tried to prepare myself for this trip,” says Dr. Hirsh. “The month before I left, my Japanese neighbor tutored me in some common Japanese words and phrases and prepared a script for me to say at the beginning of my large formal talks and at the end of my talks. While I didn’t have good pronunciation, my audiences were very appreciative of my effort to do a formal introduction and conclusion in Japanese. My neighbor also helped me prepare my business cards in Japanese and this was well received too.”
In addition to her commitments at the university, Dr. Hirsh also explored different parts of Japan, including Kanazawa, Kamakura, Kurashiki, Hiroshima, and Nara. When asked what some of her most memorable experiences were, Dr. Hirsh said: “I enjoyed experiencing a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, trying on a kimono, visiting many shrines, biking through the rice fields, tasting different types of Japanese cuisine, and riding the bullet trains.”